Today is Ash Wednesday, the official start of Lent—the 40-day period of preparation (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter.
Some Christians attend services where ashes are put on their foreheads. In a pandemic, these services will either be skipped or modified.
Ashes symbolize our mourning and regret for sin. They also symbolize our mortality.
Recall Genesis 3:19 where Adam is punished for his disobedience to God and made to work the soil that he came from, and to which he will one day return: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
To me, today is about pondering mortality. We have a limited time here on earth. What are we doing with the time we have left?
Richard Baxter invites us to think through whether we are “labourers or loiterers” while on earth.*
Are we labouring for God? Or are we loitering—just hangin’ around, wasting time, and wasting the gifts we’ve been given?
Even though we all need rest and fun and mindless banter from time to time—we don’t only need those things.
As a pastor, I’ve stood over dozens and dozens of lowered caskets or urns in cemeteries saying these words: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Are we labourers or loiterers while here on earth?
—HUMAN TRAFFICKING. This year my church has a team for FabFeb, a month dedicated to raising funds and awareness in the fight against human trafficking particularly in the sex trade. (Yes, slavery still exists.) If you donate that would be amazing; it equips the right people to do the right work. Just go here. Thank you!
—INTERVIEW. As a part of that work, I interviewed a local volunteer on the ground engaged in the fight. You can watch my interview with Abby here.
–*Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (London: The Religious Tract Society), 126.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.